Dear New Mother Me,
I've traveled the road you’re on right now. The one you’re just beginning. It’s a crazy journey with some high highs and low lows - mixed with cherished moments in between. Oh you may not recognise them all for what they are at first, but eventually you will be able to look back and smile.
The beginning had its terrifying moments. Going through that little process called labour. The pain, the tears, the discovering how much you really can bear. And then the exhilaration, the relief, the first snuggle – so precious.
Exhaustion sets in and the body longs for rest but you can’t have it. Not yet anyway. Holding this crying bundle, not knowing how to make it calm. Desperate, desperate for some peace and quiet to be able to rest. If only the nurses would understand that and stop trying to make baby feed – again!! Somewhere in the blur you find yourself wondering how long it will take for things to return to normal. What if this is the new normal? Heaven forbid! Then at last a nurse has a heart and takes baby for a couple of hours. Sleep, precious sleep.
The third day blues arrive. Oh the third day blues – hormonal rivers pouring down your cheeks for no apparent reason. It’s the day they’ll send you home too. Home to a comfy bed and a proper meal that’s actually appetising. Home to do it all on your own. You’ll be engulfed in overwhelm.
Bed time arrives and baby’s little bed is set up at the side of your own. But after an hours inconsolable crying (his and yours!) you’ll bundle him up and move the bassinet to his room just a few feet up the hall.
You wake the next day in a pool of milk. Eventually your creative self will find a solution. (Hint: it involves a singlet and a cloth nappy). It’s your first day at home and you’re not convinced you want to spend it on your own while hubby goes to work. You’ll gather your belongings and what you think you’ll need for baby and head off to visit your parents. They’ll know what they’re doing and can offer some sound advice. You nearly cry with relief at hearing mother’s advice on feeding. A great weight is lifted from your shoulders.
How to explain though to the excited Aunt that no, she can’t pick baby up from his carrier. Despite her pleas you remain firm as you experience the first glimmer of connecting as you adore his perfect little face calm and quiet and asleep. This is not something you have words for right now. You've looked forward to meeting the little chap yet find yourself battling the emotions swirling about within. He’s your child and for that you love him dearly. Right now, that is more of a decision than a mushy feeling.
You’ll long to bond with him. And feel somehow broken for not being able to. Be patient with yourself. You've been through a lot this past nine months. An unexpected pregnancy so soon after marriage. You had antenatal depression, though you won’t find this out for several years. The guilt for the feelings toward the unborn child within you - that lasts until almost his sixth birthday. The knowing that it wasn't right to feel this way but too ashamed to tell anyone. This too shall pass my dear and you will have a precious moment at Jesus feet when he lifts this heavy burden from your shoulders. Don’t give up hoping and praying and looking to Him for your answers.
Perhaps the picture painted so far seems a rather dismal one. Although you will find things overwhelming at first, things do eventually settle into a routine. Believe it or not baby will learn to sleep through the night and you’ll laugh at the memory of waking in a panic and checking on baby (imagining the worst) only to find him sleeping peacefully in his cozy blankets.
When you’re up to it, go out. Maybe it won’t be for very long at first but it’s so important to have community. Despite the novelty for others of meeting your precious new addition they’ll eventually settle down. It can even be nice to hand him over to a friend and take a break for a few minutes…
Be kind to yourself. Loving this child will grow your patience, your temperament, your wisdom, your resourcefulness, your trust, faith and hope.
Some moments will be doozies. Learn to forgive yourself, look for the lesson, and leave the rest in the past where it belongs.
Some moments will be dazzlers. Celebrate these. The big, the bold ones – make just as loud a noise. There’ll be quieter ones too (though no less shiny), that only a Mama’s soul will understand. Tuck them into your heart for the quiet later with a simple ‘thank you’ offered upward. For heaven sees and is cheering you on.
If you could write a letter to your past self – what would you say?